Skip to content
Mike Lieberman, CEO and Chief Revenue ScientistTue, Mar 9, 2021 11 min read

How You Can Eliminate References With Just One Strategic Video

Videos That Shorten The Sales Cycle

And Also Shorten Your Sales Cycle By 30%

Before our engagements start, we do a deep dive around the client’s Revenue Cycle to look at the time and data associated with turning a website visitor into a paying customer. One of the most common discoveries in that process is the time it takes to deliver references.

On average, clients are looking at about two weeks. By the time the sales rep gets approved references and the prospect connects with the customer to talk, it takes about 14 days.

That’s a perfect area to attack quickly, deploy new tools and new processes, and eliminate those two weeks from a client’s sales cycle.

Our reference reel is proven to eliminate the need for references, cutting two weeks off the back end of most sales processes.

Click here to see our Reference Reel Video.

Here’s how to use video in your marketing and how to build your own reference reel.

Video Strategy

Like all tactics, it’s important to think before you act. You can reduce random acts of marketing with planning and strategy development before shooting any video.

In this case, be clear on the story you want your customers to tell. Identify customers who are willing to go on video to tell their story and will be compelling in their delivery.

Consider what pages on your website make sense for this video. Determine where in the sales process this video might fit. Think about the context of the conversations you’re having with prospects and what questions people on your website might be having right before they find this video.

By doing just a little bit of thinking and planning, this video is going to fit in better and have connectors to more applications. This strategy step ensures that your work contributes even more to your overall success.

Customer Selection

Once you start working on customer videos, you’ll quickly see that not all customers are created equally when it comes to being comfortable or good on camera.

Your best customer might have the best intentions, but when that red light comes on, they freeze up so drastically that they can’t tell their story.

Not only do you want a customer who has a great story to tell but one who also has the ability to tell it in an interesting and compelling way.

You might think you have a candidate because they seem comfortable on Zoom, but you won’t really know until you start shooting the video.

The best way to prepare for this is to have enough customers scheduled to do the testimonial so that if one or two are duds, it won’t scrap your project. Typically, you need four to six stories to produce a three-to five-minute reference reel.

Customer Prep

Aim to make your customers feel as comfortable and prepared as possible by spending time getting them ready for the video shoot.

One way is to give them a script. There are two schools of thought around scripts. About half of people like them because they ensure a high-quality story is told, while the other half hates scripts because they can come off as less than authentic and it can look like someone is reading (which isn’t great either).

However, your client doesn’t have to read the script word for word. Just having a script gives them the ability to practice, get comfortable and start thinking about what they might say.

Another option is to prep the customer with questions and let them think about potential answers. Often, we do a Q&A session that allows us to ask the same question three or four times. By the las time, the customer has a great answer that is exactly the snippet we’re looking for. It sounds natural, checks all the boxes and is perfect to be edited together into the final version.

Click me


I’ve seen a lot of bad customer videos. One of the mistakes most people make is not crafting a story for the customer to tell. Stories are very specific in their creation.

Andrew Stanton, a master storyteller and cowriter of the Toy Story movies, gave a TED Talk that nailed the definition of good storytelling. He said, “It’s knowing your punchline, your ending, knowing that everything you’re saying, from the first sentence to the last, is leading to a singular goal, and ideally confirming some truth that deepens our understandings of who we are as human beings.”

You have to know your audience. Who is going to be watching this video? What are their specific concerns related to the video? What do they hope to learn by watching it? When you know your audience, you can speak directly to them and their interests, use their preferred language and tell a story they actually care about.

Powerful stories are ones that your reader can connect with and relate to. The art of storytelling is drawing the reader in so they think it’s about them. Consider getting the customer to use personal experiences to connect with the viewer. They can also share examples and stats that give the viewer something to think about during the video and after the video is over.

Finally, introduce conflict or challenges that your customer might have been dealing with. This brings the viewer in and allows them to empathize with your customer. Then make the story actionable, leaving the viewer with clear steps they can take to solve their challenges in a similar way.

In most cases, the story is the key to getting, engaging and keeping the viewer all the way through from beginning to end. The video should create a memory that stays with your prospect long enough to get them to take the desired action. In this case, its to say yes and sign your paperwork.

GettyImages-1249940526Remote Video Production

This is easier than ever. Today your smartphone shoots movie-quality video. There are remote video capture apps and teleprompter apps. Video editing software enables almost anyone to create tight, short and creative marketing and sales videos. Don’t feel intimidated by the idea of video capture, video production or even the post-production work.

Plus, your customers and prospects are realigning their expectations for video. No one expects a highly produced professional video, which was the norm just a few years ago. Today, people actually prefer homegrown videos. They trust them more and feel that they’re more authentic than highly produced videos.

This should give you the green light to move forward with a whole host of video content projects.


Post-production work is usually inevitable. This is the work that needs to get done after the shoot and the raw footage is collected. It includes adding closed captions, which are important because many people watch videos with their sound off.

In addition, post-production includes adding a little intro and outro music to make the video more interesting. It also includes adding your logo (plus potentially animating your logo) and elements like prospect logos, the titles of the people talking and even graphics to help tell the story in a more interesting way, such as data points or bulleted lists.

While not required, these post-production upgrades are easy to do, especially if you find a video production partner, and they won’t add significant cost to your production budget.

Using The Video

Once created, plan on getting multiple uses from the video asset. Landing pages, website pages, blog articles, emails in your sales process, trade shows, conferences, webinars, email marketing campaigns and social media posts are just some of the applications for your new videos.

Of course, you have to deploy these videos in proper context. The stories that the customers tell on video need to directly answer any questions, concerns or issues people are having at that moment. Content in context is the key to using all kinds of content in the entire buyer and customer journey.

Knowing where you think you’ll use these videos before you start producing them ensures you don’t miss the mark when you’re ready to deploy them.

Since we deployed our own reference reel, we’ve eliminated the need for references. By strategically sending it to prospects, they’ve stopped asking for references. Now we don’t have to bother our clients, try to facilitate a call and wait for these calls to happen.

The simple change reduced our sales process from 46 days to 32 days, a 30% drop. This one change has allowed us to close more new clients faster and improve our close rate.

This is just another area where video can dramatically impact your ability to generate revenue, speed up the sales cycle and help your reps be significantly more effective.

Square 2 — Building The Agency You’ll LOVE!


Mike Lieberman, CEO and Chief Revenue Scientist

Mike is the CEO and Chief Revenue Scientist at Square 2. He is passionate about helping people turn their ordinary businesses into businesses people talk about. For more than 25 years, Mike has been working hand-in-hand with CEOs and marketing and sales executives to help them create strategic revenue growth plans, compelling marketing strategies and remarkable sales processes that shorten the sales cycle and increase close rates.